About the Author: Tom Weinz served as the dedicated Foreign Service Liaison Officer for Pacific Partnership 2010 and will serve as the dedicated Foreign Service Officer for Pacific Partnership 2011.
The Department of State is coming to realize the tremendous potential of the Pacific Partnership program, begun by the U.S. Navy following the devastating Asian tsunami of December 2004. On January 18, Commodore Lisa Franchetti, mission commander of Pacific Partnership 2010, arrived at the Department to brief Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell on the program and how valuable it is to State, and our partner and mission countries in the Pacific region. She also thanked Campbell for the Department's support, both from U.S. Embassies and by the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau's providing a dedicated Foreign Service Liaison Officer (FSLO) to the mission. Commodore Franchetti also presented briefings to relevant officers in both State and USAID.
Commodore Franchetti explained that Pacific Partnership is not just a U.S. Navy port visit, or even a medical mission. It is an annual mission involving hundreds of planners for up to a year, and emphasizes six areas of commitment: onboard surgeries (even-numbered years); medical and dental services; engineering/ renovation projects; training and biomedical equipment repair; veterinary training and services; and public diplomacy-community relations. U.S. Navy-led teams spend about 10 days in each mission country between November and February every year and develop detailed plans for all of the areas mentioned above. Sites and plans focus on specific concerns of local governments and officials, in cooperation with the local or regional American embassy. The plans are fully critiqued during a Mid-Planning Conference, held February 16 and 17 this year in San Diego. Both partner nation and non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel participate in this conference. Finally, advance teams arrive in each mission country one-month prior to the ship's arrival, and work non-stop to prepare each phase of the mission precisely for maximum effect.
This program is unique, and the Navy is inviting new ideas and new participants. USAID officers offered some fascinating new insights during Commodore Franchetti's visit, and shared a number of areas of concern. The Navy will officially announce Pacific Partnership 2011 very shortly, and the mission will again be covered in DipNote as it was in 2009 and 2010.